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How to Send Text Messages or SMS Using PHP?

Published by
Sriranjani Aravindan
August 8, 2023

According to Statista, an astounding 5.22 billion people actively use mobile phones, making SMS a powerful and ubiquitous means of reaching your audience. In this blog, we'll guide you through the process of sending text messages using PHP, the versatile and widely adopted programming language for web development.


Sending SMS messages with PHP is not only efficient but also opens up a myriad of possibilities for your applications. Whether you want to send purchase confirmations, appointment reminders, event notifications, or even secure OTP codes for Two-Factor Authentication, PHP offers a seamless integration with SMS sending platforms. In the next paragraphs, we'll delve into the steps you need to follow, the basic knowledge of PHP required, and the various use cases where PHP-driven SMS messaging can enhance your user experience and engagement. 

Table of Contents

  • What is PHP?
  • How is PHP-Driven SMS Messaging Applied to Customer Messaging?
  • How to Use PHP to Send Text Messages (SMS)?
  • 5 Tips to Send Text Messages Using PHP
  • Conclusion

What is PHP?

PHP is widely regarded as the most popular programming language for creating websites and online software applications. Numerous platforms like WordPress, PrestaShop, Drupal, and many others utilize PHP as their primary technology and programming environment.


One of the advantages of using PHP is its seamless integration with SMS messaging capabilities. It's relatively straightforward to incorporate SMS functionality into web or software projects developed with PHP. All that's required is a basic understanding of PHP and access to an SMS sending platform that supports sending messages.


How is PHP-Driven SMS Messaging Applied to Customer Messaging?

The application of PHP-driven SMS messaging can serve various objectives, including:

  • Purchase confirmation and status updates: Businesses can send SMS notifications to customers regarding their purchase confirmations or changes in order status.
  • Appointment reminders and event notifications: Service providers can use SMS to remind clients about appointments or inform them about upcoming events and gatherings.
  • Form submissions and conversions: Web forms can be integrated with SMS notifications, allowing immediate follow-ups with users who submit important information or complete desired actions.
  • Promotional information dissemination: Companies can leverage SMS to send out promotional materials like discount codes, product news, or special offers.
  • Enhanced security with 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication): SMS can be employed to send One-Time Password (OTP) codes, ensuring secure access to user accounts and protecting against unauthorized access.
  • Error alerts and system notifications: SMS can be used as a reliable means to send alarms or notifications when errors or critical issues occur within a system.

How to Use PHP to Send Text Messages (SMS)?


The SMS API offers straightforward and essential functionality for seamlessly integrating text messages into your software application. Numerous SMS API providers are available, including well-known names like Twilio, App0, and MessageBird.

Using an SMS API provides several advantages. Regardless of the API you choose, the integration process is easy and requires minimal coding effort, thanks to comprehensive documentation provided by the services. Some API providers even offer additional features such as analytics and click-through rates. Moreover, SMS API performs faster compared to the SMTP to SMS method.


However, using an SMS API comes with its share of drawbacks. Firstly, all API providers charge a fee, with costs varying based on your chosen plan and the number of text messages you intend to send. Another downside is that if your application requires notifications through multiple channels, you'll need to connect each new channel independently. This can be time-consuming and may demand extra effort on your part.


Additionally, implementing an SMS-based notification system involves building the necessary infrastructure and logic to respect user preferences, adhere to regional regulations, manage templates, incorporate advanced send logic, and handle dynamic or personalized content, among other factors.

Using SMTP

SMTP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, is commonly associated with sending system-generated emails. Various libraries offer SMTP services, such as Nodemailer for Node.js applications, SwiftMailer and PHPMailer  for PHP applications, depending on the backend programming language.


To send SMS using SMTP, you need the phone number you want to reach and the carrier's name. The standard format for most carriers is "phoneNumber@domainName.com." For instance, if your number is 55872991234, and your network provider is Verizon Wireless Network, you can type "55872991234@vtext.com" in your email client to send an SMS to +1 (555) 555-1234.

To implement this with PHP, you can use PHPMailer or PHP's mail function. The SMTP to SMS method allows you to send text messages using your email client with minimal coding effort, making it a convenient option.


However, using SMTP to send SMS has some disadvantages. Firstly, you need to know the carrier associated with the mobile number, and messages may be split into multiple texts if they exceed the character limit. Moreover, the process can be slower as messages need to go through the SMS gateway, and there's a chance of failed deliveries.


This method requires building the entire SMS infrastructure from scratch, involving a deep understanding of SMTP and carrier SMS infrastructure. Additionally, you'll need to develop the logic to handle user preferences, comply with regional regulations, manage templates, and handle dynamic content, among other tasks.

Using a Notifications API

While sending an SMS using an SMS API is a straightforward process, creating an automated notification system requires a robust infrastructure and logic to ensure a seamless user experience. A Notification API comes to the rescue by working in conjunction with an SMS API and offering additional notification functionalities through well-defined API primitives, sparing you from building it all from scratch. This solution also provides real-time logs and analytics, enabling you to monitor performance across all channels in a notification sequence. Moreover, operating one level above the SMS API provider allows the Notification API to act as a failover mechanism, switching between providers in case of any service disruptions.


The advantages of utilizing a notifications API service are manifold, especially when SMS is the preferred medium for notifications. It offers a comprehensive set of features essential for crafting effective text or multi-channel notifications while keeping your codebase clean and streamlined. Critical infrastructure requirements like security, user preferences, failover mechanisms, and logging are all taken care of and maintained by the notifications API, saving you considerable effort. Additionally, services like grant access to a drag and drop template builder, significantly reducing the time spent on creating notification templates.


Interested to know how to send text messages using Python, then read our blog on Python SMS Sender to add send SMS using Python.

5 Tips to send text messages using PHP


When sending a text message, make sure to provide a sender name or number in the "from" field. The recipient will see this information. Remember that the sender field has an 11-character limit.


The recipient's phone number must be in the E.164 format, which includes the plus sign (+) followed by the country prefix (e.g., 34 for Spain) and the telephone number.


Consider the character set of your SMS message:

  • GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications): Limited to Latin characters, including ñ and certain accents.
  • Unicode: Allows unlimited characters, including emojis. 


SMS messages have length limitations based on the character set:

  • GSM: Up to 160 characters per message (153 for concatenated messages).
  • Unicode: Up to 70 characters per message (67 for concatenated messages).

If a message exceeds these limits, it will be split into multiple parts and sent to the recipient's phone. Once received, the parts are reassembled to appear as a single message.


The API uses HTTP response codes to indicate the status of a request.

  • Code 201: Indicates a successful SMS delivery.
  • If you receive a code other than 201, here are the possible meanings:

- 400 Wrong Request: There is an issue with the request.

  - 401 Authentication Failed: The token used is invalid.

   - 402 No Funds: There are insufficient funds to send messages.

   - 413 Request Entity Too Large: The request contains too many elements for bulk mailing.

   - 422 Validation Errors: There are validation errors in the request.

  - 429 Rate Limit Reached: The number of requests per minute has exceeded the allowed limit.


In conclusion, PHP proves to be an invaluable tool for incorporating SMS messaging into web and software projects. Its widespread usage in the development community makes it a highly accessible language for this purpose. By following the provided guidelines, you can easily integrate SMS functionalities into your applications, enabling various uses such as purchase confirmations, appointment reminders, and promotional campaigns. Moreover, the added layer of security through OTP codes ensures a more robust user experience.


Armed with this newfound knowledge, you possess the means to create dynamic and engaging interactions with your audience. SMS messaging allows you to connect with users in real-time, keeping them informed and enhancing their overall experience.

If are you struggling with the development team's capacity to add a messaging capability to your product, then contact App0 now.


App0 is a low-code platform built for product companies to implement communication capabilities like messaging, with simple no-code integrations that don't require additional developer bandwidth. It allows your customers to interact and conversationally complete workflows like text-based notifications, payments, reminders, etc, while staying in your product.


Launch conversational AI-agents faster and at scale to put all your customer interactions on autopilot.

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